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Current time:0:00Total duration:4:19

Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine

Video transcript

we're standing in the main aisle of what's known as the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine and even what's left is just huge it's yeah it's massive scale here is to just overwhelm you with the power of the engineering and the architecture and the power of the Emperor that niche is where the famous head and limbs of Constantine were found we love it in archaeology our history and we actually find the work of art in situ so we actually have the original architectural location we actually have the architecture this was started by the Emperor Maxentius but then completed by the Emperor Constantine it's pretty much my extension project but Constantine does some small modifications and then ultimately his gargantuan statue about 15 meters high I was placed on one end so this is almost unprecedented in terms of scale in the history of architecture and the Romans were able to do this because of concrete they do have some gigantic the silica is like the potato opa by Trajan in his forum and the Basilica Julia itself down in the Roman Forum but this one here looks different this one here looks more massive why because it's using a different kind of technology it didn't have a ceiling of roof beams it didn't have the timber truss work instead it's borrowing from the frigidarium spaces the large cold halls in the bath complexes like the baths of caracalla and the Bowser Diocletian and it just looks awesome over the main area there was a massive green vault made out of concrete and we see that the side aisles have barrel vaults and we can still see the impressions from the coffers that were there creating these coppers you're reducing the overall weight of the vaulting so it has a double purpose and that's the way the Romans were they're interested in aesthetics and they're interested in engineering technology and they're building things to last so what we're seeing here is brick facing on the concrete and then these would have been covered by what were slabs of marble that would have been very colorful and geometric like the interior of the Pantheon right so when you look at the small little holes of pepper the surface that's for the metal clamps the metal clamps would have helped hold and placed the panel's of marble that also would have been glued in with cement and it's of course all been stripped away concrete labelled the Romans to shape space in a way that was different from post and lintel architecture and to create the sense of grandeur we're talking about a period now at the end of the third century in the beginning of the fourth century when the Empire is coming undone has been coming undone for a while now my attentions we manage to pull things together for at least six years of reign and he decided I'm gonna make a fresh start in the city of Rome I'm gonna build a lot of massive structures in the forum area the warehouses around this part of town had burned down it was a great opportunity to create a new large the silica and that's what he does so when you see a structure like this you're very much aware that the Romans are still able to build and still able to wow the audience but then a civil war follows and Constantine goes to battle with Maxentius with whom he was co ruler before that right a major discrepancy in who is the Emperor the tetrarchic system where there were two senior emperors and two junior emperors really doesn't work and these guys are sons of some of those emperors so they're duking it out literally all throughout the empire and it's at the Milvian bridge then that you get the total victory of Constantine and his troops and Maxentius is killed at the Milvian bridge it was just before this battle that Constantine had his vision that inspired him to become a supporter of Christianity and decriminalize it legalized it ultimately and so this is the end of the Empire in some ways the beginnings of the Middle Ages here's a point in time in which Constantine is coming in he's celebrating his victory but he's not making a sacrifice at the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus and he will eventually move to make these big public churches for the first time st. Peter's and st. John Lateran at the same time he's going to make sure that he takes care of the city and he wants to be associated with the forum doesn't build a church here but he does make sure that everyone knows that this Basilica is indeed his and he is the ruler the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine was a civic space it was a law court like all basilica's were but this is a form that will be adopted by the Christians for their first churches you